Pedagogic research: Activities
What activities in this broad domain does the English Subject Centre support? In one sense all Subject Centre activities across the network are predicated on ideas about enhancement – ideas which rest upon more or less articulate analyses of what actually happens where learning takes place. To read our newsletter, search our website, or attend an ESC event, you are presumably looking for something, and have articulated (or had articulated for you) the need to look. Pedagogic writing and research is so to speak a developed form of such intuitions as that I’d like to know more about what my colleagues do, or how my students actually use the handouts or VLE I make available to them; or that only two out of eighteen students really seemed interested in my last Frankenstein seminar. If we are lucky, we have colleagues willing to talk about these things. Research takes its start from the kind of dialogues colleagues have – or could have – with each other.
Activities in which the ESC was explicitly engaged included the book series (with Palgrave Macmillan) Teaching the New English (see various pubs on this site), the funding of departmental projects, and the production and commissioning of newsletter articles and website pages. The Subject Centre was also closely involved in producing a UK special issue of the US journal Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture. The varied collection of Case Studies on this site provides both examples and jumping off points for further pedagogic research in the family of English disciplines. During 2011, the Subject Centre was involved in editing (with Richard Steadman-Jones of Sheffield University) a special pedagogic issue of the journal Language and Literature due to be published in the autumn of 2011.
Increasingly, the Subject Centre sought to make a case to a wider community that the skills, techniques, and insights that arise from the English group of disciplines have a direct relevance to pedagogic research. It is not simply a matter of English (or any other discipline) having to purloin the language of evidence-based social science. We may in our turn have conceptual and methodological gifts to give professional education research. Two brief attempts to spell out this case can be found on the TLRP Capacity Building website.
Other, related, examples include dissemination activities emerging from National Teaching Fellowship (and to a lesser extent FDTL) projects.